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Can wearing makeup slow skin ageing?

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Wearing makeup that includes SPF ingredients, pigments and reflectors may help protect the skin from UV rays and pollution

Cosmeceuticals, or functional coloured cosmetics—such as foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick—are the second most important anti-ageing product after sunscreen, Dr Phillip Artemi told the Australasian College of Dermatologists’ Annual Scientific Meeting in Sydney.

Not only do they slow ageing, they also reduce the incidence of skin cancer particularly around the eye, Dr Artemi, a dermatologist with the ACD, said.

“We now know that it isn’t just solar radiation such as UVB and UVA that are bad for our skin,” Dr Artemi told the meeting.

“The sun also emits infra-red radiation and visible light, which can lead to skin damage resulting in dull skin, wrinkles and unsightly pigmentation. In addition, pollution has been shown to cause wrinkles and ageing of the skin, with traffic pollution set to become a major skin toxin as the population becomes more urbanised.

“The notion that not wearing make-up makes for healthier skin, is no longer a valid one.”

Functional coloured cosmetics due to their blend of SPF ingredients, pigments, and reflectors of solar radiation are now a vital part of every woman’s anti-ageing and skin cancer prevention regime, he said.

But there’s a warning for those who prefer gloss to full coverage lipstick: gloss provides little protection. The darker and longer wearing a lipstick is, the better the protection it offers.

“A combination of sunscreen, foundation, eye shadow and mascara can reduce the incidence of skin cancers around the eye better than the use of sunscreen alone,” Dr Artemi said.

“Whilst sunscreens do a lot, they don’t do enough and should not be relied on solely for skin health. Now we can advise that functional coloured cosmetics should be added to this long standing advice to further reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing, as well as protecting against the increasing danger of air pollution.”

Pollution is the second biggest cause of facial skin ageing. Between 2011 and 2013 the market saw a 10% rise in the number of beauty products carrying “anti-pollution” claims.

To protect against air pollution, Dr Artemi said he recommended consumers cleanse, moisturise, use of a broad spectrum sunscreen and functional cosmetics.

The ACD recommends that for effective sun protection a combination of measures are needed—slip on clothing; slop on sunscreen; slap on a broad-brimmed hat; seek shade; and slide on sunglasses. It is recommended to avoid being outside in the sun in the middle of the day, when UV levels are at their highest.

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